What is Cord Blood Banking
Exciting new research on cord blood is constantly finding new uses in medical science. Cord blood is found in the umbilical cord and placenta of a newborn child and contains valuable stem cells, which have the ability to form new, healthy blood cells. Successful treatment of blood diseases and cancers are already in use and several more promising research is in the pipeline. Until science and technology catch up, cord blood banking is a way to preserve cells for future use.
Cord blood banking involves collecting, testing and preserving cord blood for future use. Strict laws govern the handling and preservation of all cord blood to ensure safety and quality. There are two different types of cord blood banks. Private banks accept a fee to preserve the cord blood of an infant for future use by the infant or any member of the family who may need it. Private banks keep the individual’s identity attached to their cord blood. Public banks accept medical donations of cord blood from families free of charge. Following testing, no identity is attached to the donated cord blood and it is not available to the family for future use. Public banks have been criticized for this cataloguing method because of the possibility of the donor developing a genetic disorder later in life that was not detected at the time of collection. This could cause problems for a patient receiving treatment using the stem cells from this cord blood.
Cord blood is collected from donors who volunteer their infant’s stem cells. Private banks keep a record of the donor’s identity, but public bank donors are anonymous. Arrangements are typically made for collection before the third trimester. Cord blood collection takes place immediately following birth when the umbilical cord is drained of its contents, usually around 75 millilitres of blood. The placenta blood is often collected at this time as well.
After collection, the cord blood is sent to a lab for testing. This process ensures the blood is free of viruses, hepatitis, fungal matter and bacteria. Once the cord blood proves to be free of these microorganisms, it is sent to a facility specializing in blood cord banking to be preserved. Cord blood is frozen using cryopreservation, a slow cooling method.
Families who bank cord blood for future use may find this a very wise investment. While research is still being conducted on the efficacy of using a donor’s own cord blood, the cells can be extremely beneficial to family members. A sibling in need of a donation has a 75 percent chance of being a blood match, and parents have a 50 percent chance. Research being conducted indicates that in the future a number of commonly lethal diseases may be eliminated using the stem cells in cord blood. Cardiovascular disease, cerebral palsy and diabetes are a just a few of the diseases that may be cured through the use of cord blood. This makes cord blood banking the wisest investment a family may ever make.